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Feb 23, 2020 4:59 PM
valentine furnishes his new house
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It’s rich and tender, falls apart in his mouth, leaves just a trace of heat behind.

Valentine is watching him.

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In terms of simple flavor, it's quite possibly the best thing he's ever tasted.

He lets that show, too.

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“...you flatter me.”

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He can’t summon words, but he shakes his head violently: not flattery, never flattery. 

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"I wouldn't have thought this was an exceptionally good night, myself..."

He looks contemplative, pets Jean slowly.

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He leans into the petting, eyes fluttering shut.

"I ... wouldn't know..."

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"...how is that?"

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"Nnnnnot usually ... paying ... attention..."

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"Is that so."

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"Mmmhmm..."

He's quite lost in the petting.

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The petting has, quite abruptly, ceased.

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Jean lifts his head a little to blink up at Valentine, mildly alarmed.

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Valentine is very occupied with something in the middle distance.

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"...is something the matter, Valentine?"

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He looks to be somewhat at a loss for words.

"...please pay attention in the future," he manages, clearly inadequately.

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“...what, every time?” he asks, as if Valentine can’t have possibly meant that. 

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"...excuse me?"

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Every meal? The whole time? Forever?

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"I – as opposed to what, exactly?"

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“...not paying attention? Reading? Having a conversation? Watching you?”

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"...then it takes active effort for you to know what something tastes like."

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“...I suppose?”

He’s at sea with this whole line of questioning. 

“I’m simply — not paying attention to it, usually, any more than I am to — the seams of my clothing, or the floaters in my eyes, or the number of tiles on a floor.”

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He takes a deep breath.

“Did you...happen to notice any of it, during the last meal at the country house?”

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Caro is watching this entire exchange across the table as if it’s slow-motion footage of an immersion blender accident.

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It’s slowly dawning on Jean that he’s done something terribly, terribly wrong. 

“I ... don’t think so? If it was ... like this ... I think I would have remembered, sir.”

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